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Hello there, passive-aggression.

autism behaviours commuincation neurodivergent Apr 15, 2021
This morning whilst packing up from a weekend away, one of my children told me I had been passive-aggressive.
It was a  shock.
I had said “I’m sensing annoyance in your tone” and that was their response: “Yeah because you were being passive-aggressive.”
It was a moment that felt like too much.
I knew it was important how I handled it.
Rather than staying silent, hiding away or shutting down, they were communicating their inner experience.
This was big.
And I struggled.
PDA kicked in for me. Fight, flight, freeze or fawn?
I never fawn, I was currently frozen, I wanted to fight but knew not to.
I wanted to point the finger and blame and defend my position.
“I’m going to take a moment” I announced, before removing myself to a quiet room.
I sat on the bed and went deep into the pain of how I had been engaged with some form of conflict or uncomfortable exchange with every single member of my immediate family while we had been away.
My eldest daughter shared some stuff from our past difficulties that I struggled to hear.
My husband and I had a few tense moments before I burst out with “I’m feeling controlled and I don’t like it.”
I had gone to lie down early the night before, struggling with an autoimmune flare and was unable to join in for our family games.
I had some big feelings in there.
I cried and cried, let the tears flow and each time I attempted to talk about it with anyone I couldn’t.
I stood in front of the mirror, travelling back to all the times I’d been too much, not enough, how not everyone loves me, how unfair life can be, etc etc.
I do that. My feelings are big.
I don’t just hone in on the current, present situation in the moment.
Oh heck no.
Those feelings rapidly expand and all of the sensory associations drop in for a G’day too.
“Remember the time…?”
“What are you doing with your life?!”
“You’re damaging your children.”
All the feelings.
Those feelings begin to mesh with thought contortions and rapidly flow down into that slippery slope of “NOBODY LOVES ME!”
My PDA nature is to protect and defend myself.
Bless you, PDA.
So quick to hurl me into that space where it’s me against the world and they’re all wrong.
But I got this.
I sat. Took a breath. Thought about what had happened in the last 24 hours.
And up I got.
I put my shoes on, walked out of the bedroom and said to my beautiful kid “Hey. Yeah. I was passive-aggressive. I didn’t mean to be, but I was. Sorry about that”.
And we packed the cars and life went on.
I’ve worked so hard at creating a relationship and a safe connection with my children so that they’re able to share with me exactly what they’re feeling in a non-explosive way.
I don’t always get it right.
We’re autistic folx.
We have big feelings and not always enough processing time to respond in ways we’d like to.
But we say sorry and we mean it.
We talk about what happened and we move forward.
I’m a PDAer. When someone tells me how they feel about me, or something I’ve said or done, my threat response takes over; completely clouding my ability to respond calmly.
I panic.
I go into shock.
So do my children.
It’s hardcore finding ways to communicate when we all struggle so much.
But we manage. We do.
But they were right, I was passive-aggressive and I LOVE that we’re finally in a place where they can say this to me.
And this is what matters most.
- KF

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